Here are the some of the products of a week-long workshop that we held at Falmouth Academy with Miss Curtis’ and Mrs Nelson’s grade 9 class. We introduced the idea of the Arctic Spring expedition, talked about what plankton are and what they need to grow, and talked about how the availability of light in the Arctic might be changing. The students were then challenged to produce linoprints of plankton and incorporate some of the science of their lives in the Arctic into their art. The students explain in their own words how they achieved this.

Shawn Trieschmann

Shawn Trieschmann
Every single one of its legs is like a little branch which the ocean life revolves around. It represents that the food chain starts with a living organism that can’t be seen with the human eye. The four wave ripples on each corner show the movement of other life around it. Though it may seem like the little things in life don’t matter, in the end they grow to be something that impacts the life of everything around you.

Eliza Van Voorhis

Eliza Van Voorhis
In my print I decided to show the population density that can pose a threat to phytoplankton populations. If there are too many phytoplankton and not enough resources they end up dying in large amounts. I used many different kinds of phytoplankton to show that, in the blooms, it is not just a single species that blooms. I also chose to use the mandala structure in the print to show the harmony between all these small organisms. I also think that the circle effect also hints at the importance of the phytoplankton to the food chain.

Celia Patterson

Celia Patterson
For my print, I selected the “Medusa” plankton. I picked this because I thought the organisms were really pretty and would look interesting as art. I sketched a lot of them in my drawing to emphasize the vast number of these in the ocean. I drew them each in their own area, to show the need of phytoplankton for a space to get their own to get resources. To accentuate these sections, I drew a geometric pattern reminiscent of an ice flow pattern.

Theo Guerin

Theo Guerin
This piece portrays the bottom of the Arctic Ocean’s food chain. The two bigger figures in the center are surrounded by various types of phytoplankton as the border. The piece shows how it takes multiple phytoplankton to feed larger krill, illustrating how vital the phytoplankton are as the bottom of the food chain. The black ink in the background portrays the darkness of the deep ocean and the abyss that these creatures sometimes live in.

Isabel Davern

Isabel Davern
I personally loved the most recent science project in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I believe the plankton I chose to draw was called Hyperia Macrocephala. I also added cracked sea ice to the background to incorporate the importance of this plankton to its habitat.

Caleb Dutton

Caleb Dutton
My plankton print relates to science and the study of life in the ocean in that it shows an example of a real species of plankton and its environment. The plankton itself is circular with hairs along its outer edge and a thin tail protruding from its rear. Due to the black and white contrasts of the print, it appears transparent and delicately constructed, with certain parts of its body interlocking – just how the actual plankton looks. In the print, the plankton is surrounded by a thick layer of ice blocks displaying its habitat and the importance of plankton in the Arctic.

Michael Mangalo

Michael Mangalo
I chose to print an image of three circle-shaped plankton. They are all in a circle-like formation as well which shows how the natural processes of the ocean include many balances. I joined them together with circular, waved hoops that emphasize the well-rounded and balanced theme of the piece. The hoops are in a waving motion so the ocean, although not distinguishable, is referred to in a subtle manner.

Molly Herbert

Molly Herbert
My print symbolizes the importance of sunlight to the phytoplankton in the ocean. In the center, three plankton are drawn to resemble the large amounts of them in the world. Around the plankton, I have drawn out the sun where beams of light cast over the plankton to symbolize how light is important to their health and well-being.

Noah

Noah
Science is a very interesting topic, but many people find it dry. Art is an interesting medium for presenting scientific material or getting people interested in science. People looking at a scientific illustration might find it far more attractive than reading a several page article about fish anatomy. The viewer might then be inspired to learn more and may then take the time to read an article on the subject.

 

The finished prints displayed at Falmouth Academy

The finished prints displayed at Falmouth Academy

About The Author

Ben Harden
Documentarian

Ben is a polar oceanographer and meteorologist working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is also a multimedia producer making radio and video programs. On this expedition Ben will be documenting the science and life aboard the Healy in a range of mediums.

2 Responses

  1. Collin DelSignore

    As a student that was able to partake in this project at Falmouth Academy, I thank you for allowing me to see ocean science in a new, inspiring light. Being a largely visual learner myself, I found this project to be a very effective way of teaching about the role of phytoplankton in the arctic and its possibly changing effects and behavior over just a long lecture. I don’t consider myself to be a fantastic artist, but I think a lot of what made this such an enjoyable experience was that it was a self-expressive application of what we learned in class rather than a strictly test-oriented approach. Once a test is done, there is no way to tell how much of that information will be retained – but I can tell you right now that I definitely won’t forget making one of my favorite band’s Celtic knot logo out of plankton, and that is where this project really shines, because the scientific information is stored along side the artistic representation.

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